A year ago I published a list of Holocaust victims born in TrzemesznoA. Kostuch, Gift of Memory, www.czat.trzemeszno.pl [accessed online: 7.04.2021]. This list turned out to be terribly long, which came as a big surprise to both myself and many Trzemeszno residents. For decades after World War II, the remembrance of the former Jewish residents of this town was erased from the collective memory. Among many testimonies from the time of the war given by the (mostly deceased now) inhabitants of the town, one can notice the striking lack of memories about Jews. One exception is the recollection of the two – as is now known – Haase brothers, murdered together with other town defenders on October 5, 1939, in Kocin (a village near Trzemeszno).
Researchers dealing with the local history have so far presented a story about the liquidation of the entire Jewish community by the German police in an unknown placeDzieje Trzemeszna [The History of Trzemeszno], Cz. Łuczak [ed.], Poznań 2002, p. 262.. Due to the relatively small number of residents of Trzemeszno, it is surprising that in a town where, colloquially speaking, everybody knows everything about everybody else, no efforts were made to find out the place of the execution – the more so as there was at least one witness of a group of Jews being led out of the town for a potential execution. It was Lechosław Majewski, a 10-year-old at that time. This is how he recalled that event years later: “I was sitting in the window, when we already came from that square [this is the very beginning of September 1939, when the Germans occupied the city and gathered the inhabitants in the Market Square – A.K.]. Immediately, I could see the local Jews being led by two on the road. These youngsters of ours, twenty-year-old Germans, are walking with rifles. And those Jews are carrying shovels. After an hour or two, the Germans came back alone. They shot them somewhere. I don't know if it's clear now where. In the Jewish cemetery? Well, somewhere, because they put grass, sod right there, so you never knew where they locked those Jews. All the Jews, young and old.”Recording of the interview by Maciej Adamski with Lechosław Majewski of 10.2012, from the private archives of M. Adamski.. The rest of the recollections show that when Lechosław spoke about “Jews”, he meant men. It should be added that the road in question was Św. Michała Street (now Mickiewicza), and the Jews were led towards the southern border of the town. This is where the Jewish cemetery was located. It was a lonely place, without residential houses, so it would have been perfect for executions. Of course, this is only a hypothesis, based on this one testimony and the Nazis' practice of executing Jews right in their cemeteries. Perhaps this matter has so far been approached as the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack. For me, however, the fundamental question is about the sense of undertaking such a search. I am deeply convinced that it still does make sense, especially since the area of the cemetery is not so large that it would be impossible to do non-invasive research to verify the existence of a mass grave.
The history of the last Jewish residents of Trzemeszno was a bit of a taboo, a bit of a neglected subject, if only due to their small number. In addition, over the years this number was reduced at least by half. One of the “trackers of the Nazi crimes”, as he called himself, Antoni Nowakowski (a teacher and a resident of Trzemeszno) made a list of the war victims coming from Trzemeszno and noted on it 15 Jewish families, 38 people altogether.A. Nowakowski, Liczbowe zestawienie ofiar hitleryzmu Ob. Ob. Trzemeszna i okolicznych wiosek według: zawodu, wieku i miejsc straceń [Numerical listing of Nazi victims – citizens of Trzemeszno and neighboring villages according to occupation, age and places of execution], Municipal Public Library in Mogilno..Thanks to another document from the E. Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute (photos 1-2), we know that 17 of them were sent to the Piotrków Trybunalski ghetto on December 13, 1939.
Among those displaced to the ghetto was Regina Eisig with her 4 children, who lived in the same tenement house as Lechosław Majewski's family (photo 3).
This is how Lechosław recalled the Eisig family: “That Jew [Menasze Eisig – A.K.] upstairs had five children. They played with us in the yard. No one forbade us. And when we went to dinner, mom would call them, quickly pour them some soup, they ate and left. When the Germans entered, when they liquidated those Jews, they took all those Jewish families to Gniezno, to the Chrobry High School, and they kept them there. And once mom got us dressed for the train, packed things, food, and we went there. I reached that fence, there was a German there, mom spoke to him, he came and then left. I can still see it today. The square was full of kids, those Jews. He left, turned his back. Then mom called our neighbor from upstairs, this Jewish woman. She came with the kids and they took the food and clothes. Mom agreed to come back next week. A week later we came, but they were gone. I still don't know what happened to them”Recording of an interview..., op. cit.. I am deeply puzzled why the knowledge about taking some Jews to the transit camp in Gniezno did not trickle down to the general awareness of Trzemeszno’s residents; but in this particular story – let's call it a “neighborly” one – there is something even more moving. Lechosław's father was the editor-in-chief of the local weekly magazine “Kosynier”, in which he repeatedly criticized the Catholic inhabitants of Trzemeszno, or more precisely, the shoemakers, for contracting a Jew to make their uppers. The Jew was none other than Menasze Eisig. Fate had it that they became neighbors in the same tenement house. Perhaps this neighborhood changed the editor's attitude towards the shoemaker. Years later, Lechosław became very angry when his father was called a fascist in the pages of the re-launched magazine with the same name. The story he told is also a warning not to be too quick in making judgments about people, which I also do not want to do in this article in regards to the residents of Trzemeszno. I only want to raise questions which, even if they have been raised before, have not yet resounded loudly enough to be followed by any steps towards deepening research on this part of the town's history and towards commemorating the Holocaust victims; for, without a doubt, the last Jews of the town were such victims. When I return to them now, after so many years since the end of the Second World War; now, when another great drama of the war in Ukraine is taking place on the other side of our country’s eastern border, I do it for one main reason – so that they finally receive a dignified commemoration, even a symbolic grave in their hometown. I hope that, thanks to people of good will, it will happen so. In the meantime, I leave here their names and surnames, and their identities more or less documented.
List of the last Trzemeszno Jews created on the basis of:
- the list of war victims from Trzemeszno compiled by Antoni Nowakowski (hereinafter: A.N.) from the Municipal Public Library in Mogilno,
- the list of Jews who arrived in the Piotrków Trybunalski ghetto, from the E. Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw,
- birth and death certificates from the State Archive in Bydgoszcz, Inowrocław Division, and the Registry Office in Trzemeszno,
- testimonies from the archives of Yad Vashem,
and information from Asher Ofri Hirsch (grandson of David and Johanna Hirsch; hereinafter A.O.H.), recollections of Trzemeszno residents: Henryk Nowak and the late Dr Lechosław Majewski.
1) Abraham Sigismund (Siegismund) - born on January 24, 1870 in Trzemeszno; a merchant, resided at Rynek 18 (currently Kilińskiego Square). He ran a store with iron, building materials and glass. His wife was Else Abraham nee Pander, who died in Trzemeszno in 1936. He had two children, who emigrated before the war and perished in the Shoah. He was deported to the ghetto in Piotrków Trybunalski. The Yad Vashem archive contains a testimony by Abraham's niece about his death in the Warsaw ghetto.
2) Eisig Regina (nee Pietrukowska), 36 years old according to the list from the ghetto in Piotrków Trybunalski (misspelled as Aisik); lived on the top floor of a tenement house at the corner of Kościelny Square (today Kościeszy-Kosmowskiego Square) and Św. Michała Street (today Mickiewicza Street); married to Menasze. They moved to Trzemeszno a few years before the war. She was deported to the Piotrków ghetto with her four children.
3) Eisig Isaak - age 10 according to the list from the Piotrkow ghetto, son of Regina and Menasze Eisig.
4) Eisig Mendel - age 8 according to the above list, son of Regina and Menasze Eisig.
5) Eisig Malka - age 6 according to the above list, daughter of Regina and Menasze Eisig.
6) Eisig Chaja - born on September 8,1939 in Trzemeszno, daughter of Regina and Menasze Eisig; transported to the ghetto in Piotrków, shown on the above list as Helene.
7) Eisig Menasze - Regina's husband; a boot maker.
8) Fuchs [first name?] - misspelled by A.N. as Fusch.
9) Fuchs [first name?] - as above.
10) Fuchs [first name?] - as above.
11) Haase Johanna - born May 31,1892 in Trzemeszno, daughter of Theresa, nee Wreszynska and Julius Haase (a tailor); transported to the ghetto in Piotrkow, listed as Anna.
12) Haase Therese Klara – born March 3, 1928 in Trzemeszno, daughter of Johanna Haase; transported to the ghetto in Piotrkow.
13) Haase Itzig Abraham - born September 15,1902 in Trzemeszno, son of Theresa and Julius Haase; called Icek by the residents; lived at 5 Bóżnicowa Street; a member of the National Defense of Trzemeszno in September 1939, murdered on October 5,1939 in Kocin.
14) Haase Leo - born December 28,1885 in Trzemeszno, son of Theresa and Julius Haase; lived at 5 Bóżnicowa Street; worked in Sigismund Abraham's store as his assistant; member of the Trzemeszno National Defense in September 1939; murdered on October 5, 1939 in Kocin.
15) Haase [first name?] - from the A.N. list.
16) Hirsch David - born September 1,1868 in Trzemeszno. His wife was Johanna Hirsch, nee Kletschewer. They had four children, three of whom emigrated earlier and survived the war. They lived in a tenement house at 12 Św. JanaStreet. He was a horse trader. During World War I he served in the German army and lost his eyesight. He was deported with his daughter and wife to the Piotrków ghetto (photo 4).
17) Hirsch Johanna - born on May 25,1867 in Sandberg, wife of David, deported to the ghetto in Piotrkow, listed on the ghetto list as Hedwig (photo 5).
18) Hirsch Flora Anna - born on February 24,1900 in Trzemeszno; daughter of David and Johanna Hirsch, deported to the ghetto in Piotrków (photo 6).
19) Keil [Marcus?] - from the A.N. list.
20) Keil [Johanna?] - as above.
21) Keil [first name?] - as above.
22) Keil [first name?] - as above.
23) Liebman / Lippmann [first name?] – from the A.N. list; in the registry office records from the beginning of the 20th century in Trzemeszno I found the surname Lippmann,
24) Rychwalski Jakob - born 1882, on the list from Piotrków registered as Rachwalski. A merchant, he ran a store at the corner of today's Kilińskiego Square and Św. Wojciecha Square. He had a son Benjamin and a daughter Rut (Ruchle), who emigrated to Palestine and survived the war.
25) Rychwalska Hanna - age 56 according to the list from the Piotrków ghetto; wife of Jakob Rychwalski.
26) Schwersenzer Willy - born December 20,1874 in Trzemeszno, son of master butcher Bernhard Schwersenzer and Rose, nee Lange; merchant, owner of a tenement house at Rynek 1 (today Kilińskiego Square), husband of Regina, nee Loewenthal. They had a daughter Lucie Margarete, married name Ohnstein, who left for Berlin, from where she was deported to Auschwitz. Deported with his wife to the Piotrków ghetto.
27) Schwersenzer Regina (nee Loewenthal) - born March 17, 1876 in Trzemeszno; daughter of Elias Loewenthal, a merchant from Trzemeszno, and Rose nee Hein. She married Willy Schwersenzer in 1902.
28) Schwersenzer [first name?] - on the A.N. list the surname is incorrectly written as “Schwesenser”
29) Schwersenzer [first name?] - as above.
30) Schwersenzer [first name?] - as above.
31) Spilich / Spieldoch [first name?] - from A.N.'s list, probably a misspelled surname, there was a Spieldoch family in Trzemeszno.
32) Tesenka / Taschynski [first name?] - from the A.N. list, probably a misspelled surname, at least two Jewish families named Taschynski lived in Trzemeszno in the early 20th century.
33) Tesenka / Taschynski [first name?] - as above.
34) Tesenka / Taschynski [first name?] - as above.
35) Tesenka / Taschynski [first name?] - as above.
36) Zucker Aurelie (nee Mendel) - born on February 7, 1885 in Trzemeszno. She married Reinhold Zucker in 1908. She was deported with her daughter to the ghetto in Piotrków.
37) Zucker Marga Ilse - born June 25, 1914 in Trzemeszno, daughter of Aurelie and Reinhold Zucker; according to the list from the ghetto in Piotrków she was a governess.
38) Zucker Reinhold - born December 18, 1882 in Trzemeszno, lived at 10 Dworcowa Street (today Kościuszki Street), worked for the local potato industry company.
39) Zucker [first name?] - from the A.N. list.
Translated by Kasia Smialkowska
|↑1||A. Kostuch, Gift of Memory, www.czat.trzemeszno.pl [accessed online: 7.04.2021]|
|↑2||Dzieje Trzemeszna [The History of Trzemeszno], Cz. Łuczak [ed.], Poznań 2002, p. 262.|
|↑3||Recording of the interview by Maciej Adamski with Lechosław Majewski of 10.2012, from the private archives of M. Adamski.|
|↑4||A. Nowakowski, Liczbowe zestawienie ofiar hitleryzmu Ob. Ob. Trzemeszna i okolicznych wiosek według: zawodu, wieku i miejsc straceń [Numerical listing of Nazi victims – citizens of Trzemeszno and neighboring villages according to occupation, age and places of execution], Municipal Public Library in Mogilno.|
|↑5||Recording of an interview..., op. cit.|